ABA Myths and Misconceptions

The Myths and Misconceptions of ABA Therapy

If you’re the parent or caretaker of a child on the spectrum, chances are you get exposed to plenty of information surrounding symptoms, treatment, best strategies and much more. It can be especially difficult to sort through that information when it’s conflicting or not backed by scientific research or word from professionals.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is a scientifically proven method of treatment that helps foster independence while supporting your child’s learning and development in a multitude of ways. That being said, there are several misconceptions about ABA that still circulate today. Below we talk about the most common myths and misconceptions surrounding ABA therapy and set the record straight to hopefully quell any concerns you may have about ABA and its benefits:

Myth: ABA is not a scientifically proven treatment

When it comes to scientific studies and behavioral professionals’ opinions, all signs point to ABA being the most effective methodology for treating Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Though it can be hard to decipher the scientific language in those studies, consulting your doctor or ABA trained professionals like our own Board Certified Behavior Analysts can clear things up and address any concerns you might have.

Myth: ABA is new and untested

ABA’s methodology has been around and evolving since the 1950s. It saw major success treating autism in the 1970s and has only become more effective and standardized since then.

Myth: All ABA programs are the same

ABA as a methodology is fundamentally different from other sciences in the sense that it is meant to be individualized, intensive, and focused. Each child has an individual treatment plan designed to focus on their particular need areas. This ensures that every child gets the proper attention and is treated in a way that works best for them while encouraging behavioral development that is holistic and effective.

Myth: ABA promotes robotic behaviors

Behavioral rigidity is a common symptom of autism. An effective ABA program will overcome this rigidity by teaching children how to respond to real-world situations in their daily lives with diversified examples and strategies. Though those responses may start simple, an effective ABA program will build upon those skills as a baseline, moving away from “robotic” and focusing on natural response.

Myth: ABA “bribes” children into good behavior

Perhaps the most egregious misconception, this myth misses the differentiation of a “bribe” versus a reinforcer. Reinforcers are used after a behavior to encourage that particular type of behavior. Bribes are offered before any behavior and are typically directed at a person versus a behavior. Moreover, bribes are closely associated with immoral and negative behaviors. In its proper context, reinforcement is a careful strategy of learning designed to promote behaviors crucial to a child’s healthy development and their overall independence.